Saturday, May 16, 2009



By Hassan Farah
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I reject the Al-Shabab’s approach to Al-Shari’ah. Their myopic way of thinking lacks the basic understanding of comprehensive Al-Shari’ah. The main objective of Al-Shari’ah is to remove hardship(Dafcul Mashaqa) and to bring benefit (Jalbul Manfaca) to the world. The Qur’an has singled out the most important purpose of the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) in such terms as "We have not sent you but a mercy to the world" (21: 107).

The Al-Shari’ah protects five important areas from harm. These areas are preservation of religion and morality, hifdh al diin; preservation of life and health, hifdh al nafs; preservation of progeny, hifdh al nasl;preservation of intellect, hifdh al ‘aql; and preservation of wealth, hifdh al maal. This translates, in today’s world, for an Islamic state to provide its citizens, among other things, the followings:

1) Employment Opportunities in terms of creating conducive environment for businesses to flourish, job & skills training, and investment in education

2) Basic necessities of life in terms of food, shelter and medical care for those who are unable to take care of themselves including the poor, elderly, disabled and unemployed

3) Safety and security through transparent police and independent judiciary

In light of above facts, I firmly believe that the secular constitution of the United States is closer to the objectives of Islamic Al-Shari’ah than what extremist groups like Al-Shabab are practicing today. In the United States, government provides necessities of life to its citizens. For instance, there are welfare programs for poor, elderly and disabled. Moreover, homeless people have access to shelters and low-income housing. This is what the Al-Shari’ah mandates for any Islamic state to provide to its citizens.

Do you really believe that Al-Shabab is willing and able to provide the above services to its subjects in Kismayo and other cities in Southern Somalia? The answer is clearly no! They are indeed cowards who are afraid of tackling economic challenges and other major humanitarian problems facing the inhabitants under their jurisdiction. Therefore, it is easy for them to chop the hands of poor people and to call this an implementation of the Al-Shari’ah.

There are those who rightly believe that non-state entities like Al-Shabab have neither the legitimacy nor the mandate to impose hudud and qisas (Islamic penal codes). However, if groups like Al-Shabab want to impose Al-Shari’ah anyway, they should first take care of their subjects before chopping their hands. In the comprehensive Al-Shari’ah understanding, the Islamic state has to provide necessities of life to its citizens.

If the state, however, is unwilling or unable to do this, then it has no right to chop the hands of alleged thieves who may be doing so just for their own survival. The second Khalif of Islam, Omar Bin Khatab, had suspended the cutting of hands of convicted thieves during drought and other economic hardships. His reasoning of suspending this punishment was that the state was unable to distinguish those who were stealing for survival from those who were doing so just to satisfy their criminal behavior. This suspension was in line with the mercy nature of the Al-Shari’ah.

In a nutshell, Al-Shabab movement has brought nothing but death and destruction to wherever it goes. For reasons unknown to most of the people, Al-Shabab has even conducted suicide attacks in peaceful cities of Bosaso and Hargeisa. Their main accomplishments so far, for instance, in the port city of Kismayo are the murdering of those who disagree with them, cutting the hands and stoning to death of poor people as well as desecrating of cemeteries in the pretext of imposing Al-Shari’ah.

The actions of Al-Shabab do more harm than good to the good name of Islam. We, Muslims, have an obligation to defend the reputation of our religion. The deviant groups such as Al-Shabab and its affiliates are liability to our faith. Silence on our part amounts to an endorsement of their horrible crimes against humanity. Special responsibility lies with religious organization such as recently formed Council of Islamic Scholarsand Al-Islah. Their reaction to Al-Shabib’s tactics has so far been muted. It is time we collectively stand up for our religion and for humanity at large in order to defeat such deviant groups once and for all.

Hassan Farah